Hello! Blue Flaming Wings here (BFW or Wings). I’ve been a longtime lurker to Civfanatics but have only made a handful of posts, but since I’m a fan of Civ and creative writing as a whole I figured that eventually I’d do a Story. And since Civ Vi Rise and Fall just came out and I had a good start I wanted to finally give it a whirl. I’m playing as Cyrus on Immortal difficulty (see what I did there?). It’s on a Large Continents map. With that said, I normally play on King so any advice you all can give would be very appreciated. My first major decision is coming up. I planned for this OP to go over the first 30 turns, but things as they often do in these games, changed and I had to adapt. I normally go 30, 50, 75, then 100, then 130, 150, and so on. Though this may change for the Story and the Eras. And if you like my writing check out my Tower of God fanfic on Spacebattles called “In the Dark”. I’ll provide a link. I hope you all enjoy! Immortals They were immortals. Or mad. “Spirit-Touched.” Elder Ishtu spoke the words softly. So much so that the other People around the campfire had to lean in to hear him. “There is power in their veins – in their blood.” He continued to whisper – his words fading into the air like the smoke from the fire coiled up into the chill. “Where all Others remained passive they take fate into their own hands. Their blood demands it.” While the People around the fire deliberately avoided looking at the Spirit-Touched at any length the Elder stared at their retreating backs. While wielding little else but the clothes on their backs and clubs with stone heads attached to them they ventured back into the forest. Braving its depths as the spirits from the mountains and trees called to them - whispered sweet words to lull them back to the caves where the People sprang forth from. Elder Ishtu could sense the spirits of the mountains linger on them. Hover over them. Or rather he Saw it. The Elder fingered the White Eyes strung on his neck – rolled them over his knuckles. His eyes rolled up to the back of his head – his Whites showed. He Heard, he Saw, he Sensed. He could feel them through the trees. His clothes of many hues, dyed deeply compared to the wool of all the Others, stretched and fluttered as the Elder stood up. The white rocks around his neck glinted in the firelight. As the Elder stood and began to speak, his tongue twisting in his mouth, the Others around the fire scooted away from him. Despite what he said of the Spirit-Touched, as the oldest amongst them, intricately linked to the spirits. He, too, was Touched. His tongues, his chants, settled into coherence. He Spoke. … He Spoke of heat. A great and terrible heat. A heat that scorched the land white and bleached the mountains. A heat that caused waves of air to rise from their depths and played tricks on the Spirit-Touched eyes – made them See things that weren’t really there. To fool. To distract. To hide the one spot where flowing water bubbled forth. But this wasn’t just a land of severe heat, the Elder told them, as they drew closer to him. The fire flickering and casting shadows along the People’s backs. Oh no. There were spirits of this place too – this bīābān, this desert. They caused the white rocks to form. But that land did not belong to the spirits alone. Others lived in that land. Others besides the People. They had come out of nowhere – just melted off the land. But make no mistake, the Elder warned them, they were not connected to the spirits. He did not know who struck first – them or the Spirit-Touched. The two sides clashed, bodies heaving into the fray. The Spirit-Touched bellowing war-cries while the Others cawed out gibberish. Sounds that just sounded like “bar, bar” to their ears. And, just like that, as quickly as they came the Others left. And so, with nothing else to do the men traveled north. As the desert ended into long fields of tall, yellow grasses. The breeze ruffled through them and their stalks crunched and bent at the group’s passage. Normally such would interest them, but as the Spirit-Touched reached the ends of the fields they froze. Their movements arrested there and then. The expanse of blue just stretched out to the horizon – as far as the eye could see. It moved, pushing in and pulling out, lapping at where the land kissed against the water. For it was water, they just knew it. They had seen how sitting water looks in streams and the Great River. And, more than all of that it smelled. It smelled more distinctly and crisply than anything they had ever smelt before. They could taste the fresh tinge on their lips. See the wind ruffle through the field they were in. The group approached the water, their footsteps sinking into the sand. One of them broke off and walked to the shoreline. He took a knee and cupped a hand into the water and then brought it to his lips. Then spat it out again. “Undrinkable,” he said. “Over here.” Came an answer. They looked over to the right. A young figure stood on top the nearby hill overlooking the everlasting waters and the mountains far to east – just barely visible to their naked eyes. The youngest amongst their ranks had split off from the group of Spirit-Touched. He looked back over the vista and nodded as they joined him on the hilltop. “Here,” he said. “We’ll claim these lands.” The boy is called Cyrus. … “No.” The voice came in suddenly, but surely. With enough confidence and self-assurance that Elder Ishtu fell silent. A man, who had been sitting across from the Elder, stood up. Darayava was a giant of a man. Tall enough to reach the heavens it seemed. By his side he wields a leather sling, it was propped against his hip as he bellowed to them. “No,” he repeated again, “I protest, venerable elder, you should not make your own grandson into the hero of the story.” “I make nothing up. I Saw it.” It seemed Darayava was going to contest that point, but he felt the tension in the air between two opposing sides. Those who supported him and those who supported the Elder glared at each other as Ishtu merely sighed, sat back down, and reclined by the fire. And yet more were poking their heads out of the tents that dotted their new home. He backtracked instantly. “Of course none doubt you, venerated one, I merely was saying the glory isn’t solely Cyrus’ to gain.” “Far be it for me to stop you, when the spirits touch and call you mere men are powerless to resist.” If the man felt he was suddenly trapped, unable to refuse, he did not show it. Instead, he puffed out his chest and glanced over the crowd of People. He beamed at them. “Alright! I shall venture south across the great plains. Who else here is with me?” His own men, his squad of hunters, did not even need to speak. They were already up and by his side before Darayava spoke his first word. Four in total. But they were not the only ones to be so Touched. Yet another hunter moved to stand up but the Elder placed a gnarled hand on the young woman’s shoulder and she halted. The Elder watched as they left the camp. He gave a weary smile. “They are hotblooded indeed. Just going off on their lonesome like that.” The Elder eyes the young woman, “Is your blood boiling like that, Ariya? Wish you had gone with the Spirit-Touched?” She flushed at that. She absentmindedly ran her hand through the fur of her canine companion by her side. As she was wont to do. “Am I so easily read? Besides, my brother can handle himself – always has.” “As I said before, far be it for me to stop one who has been called by the spirits.” She blinked. “In that case, why did you not let me go with them?” He met her confusion with a grin. “In the same way, I couldn’t just let my granddaughter undertake a long and dangerous journey without a blessing.” She did not get much more warning than that before Ishtu lay both hands on the crown of her head. “Go,” he intoned, “Go to the Sacred Woods at the base of the twin peaks. There you will wait. There you will Listen. The spirits will let you know,” He opened his eyes and his hands traveled from her forehead to the sides of her face. “They will keep you safe.” She smiled back. She leaned up and kissed his forehead. “That I shall.” And so she went. And so it was that three parties left from their new home that day. … Ariya Heard it. She couldn’t really put it in words – not fully. In the twilight hours of dusk, she sat cross-legged on the forest floor of the Sacred Woods. She couldn’t see much in this dark, but she could feel, hear, smell and taste. She felt the ground beneath – littered with foliage and fallen leaves. She could hear the tinkling sound of flowing water – the rushing of a waterfall. The forest had this crisp, clean smell – the smell of new life. Even the world had that smell – that of fresh, wetly packed earth. She could taste the dew. The wetness that coated her tongue when Aniya stuck it out. The wetness came with the encroaching night like the lack of heat did. Heat… Just like that it came to her. A voice she Heard echoing in her head. A dawning realization. Beyond it told her. Go Beyond the Desert she took it to mean. Ariya stood up from the ground, dusting herself off, and her nameless companion trailed after her. Nameless because they knew their world well. … Ariya had a ardurous journey ahead of her. She knew this. But could not find herself too concerned with finding food and water – Ariya knew how to forage, to survive off the land. As she walked she hugged the coastline of the vast body of water and was able to fish freely – while it was not enough to sustain many People it was more than enough for her. The waters, the darya; the sea as she called it, were bursting with life. Besides, she left the People full of provisions and water skins. It was enough. No. It would not be the food but the exhaustion that killed her. She walked. She walked until her legs tired out and then walked some more. But it felt like the distance never shrunk. This was too much for one person to traverse on their own, surely. If only there was some major stop, a trading post or a settlement or something… It was as she left the coastline, and crossed through a field of wild, milling cattle, that Ariya’s complaints on the distance vanished. And her world was shattered. Under the shadow of the largest mountain she had ever seen, that looked had once had been even larger as some giant had torn off its peak, she met him. A new, Other man. For a moment she almost feared he would be hostile to her like those other ones, those barbarians but Ariya could tell from his body language that this was not the case. She relaxed. She eyed the newcomer as the stranger cautiously approached. He was unlike any she had ever met before. Yet at the same time they were like mirror copies of each other. The same woolen clothing, the same haggard look from days out in the wilderness, they even had a similar beast by their sides. Indeed, the two could have been siblings - just like Cyrus. And then it was proven to her how wrong she was. The Other man did not speak her language. That was shown to her the moment he opened his mouth, and yet there was purpose to his words. Meaning. Though she did not understand he was trying to speak to her and that, alone, was enough. It did not take him long to offer her hospitality among his campsite. Unlike her the man was not alone. He had several companions that stilled and openly stared as the young woman walked amongst them. It seems these Others, like her People, had thought themselves alone in an empty world filled with spirits and men driven mad by them. But they were not. The People were not. For a moment, as she broke bread and stared down to the settlement in the distance Ariya let herself imagine a world where the two Peoples coexisted in peace, if tension. It was not to be. … In the years after, despite whatever reputation that the People known as the Persians gained, they would always argue that first surprise attack was not their fault. Ariya had very little say in the matter as these strangers started packing up their camp. At first, she intended to go on her way to the south or perhaps visit the settlement in the distance properly (when she pointed to it the Others named it Pokrovka), but Arika did not get very far before the leader of the band laid a hand on her shoulder and froze her in place. That’s how she found herself traveling with these Pokrovkans miles southward, pass a windy river, on top a hill and overlooking a forest below. If them forcing her to join them wasn’t a clear enough sign that something was wrong. Then the way they paused at the river’s edge to point out across the way, muttering to themselves, would have clued her in. At first Ariya thought they were gesturing to these strange, giant beasts that that stood fenced in on a hillock, but rather they were gesturing to these odd People that were hammering in stakes of wood around them. But then the leader barked something, and they went on their way. Odd indeed. But they continued south, to the end of the river and up a slightly sloping incline. And now, as they looked down, Ariya found herself stunned once more. There were more laborers in the forest beneath her. But it was not just the sight of the odd yellow-brown heads attached to their clubs that they swung at the trees (in itself both a feat of wonder and sacrilege) that surprised her, but it was the fact so many of these People lived in a second settlement. How many of them are there? She only finally knew, for sure, what these men intended when they went down the slope and into the trees. After a beat, she followed them. Upon reaching the base, she was relieved to find not a bloody massacre but a huddled mass of frightened laborers. Well, that was a lie. There was a sign of blood in those woods on that day. She saw that man, the leader, standing off to the side with his hound by his side. A hound that now had blood dripping from it’s jaws and was standing over a man who screamed in pain and cradled a arm to his chest. The hound looked her in the eye. By her side, her nameless companion’s hackles rose. Then Ariya knew. This was no dog. This was a wolf. … She wanted to escape into the east, to go back home, but they went north instead. Deeper into the woods they went. If there was one thing she learned, it was that the leader, Ateas as she heard through hushed whispers, knew the forests. He navigated them fearlessly into the depths. With a preternatural skill he knew where to step, where to go, to escape the men that were even now chasing them. And he was silent. Even his wolf companion followed suit. Ariya almost wanted to say that such a thing alone would mean the man was Touched by the spirits of the forests. But she could not. The young girl still remembered the way his wolf growled, the way human blood dripped from its jaws to desecrate the forest floor. She just couldn’t. She wouldn’t have to witness Ateas’ blessings from the spirits of the forest for much longer. The party broke out of the treeline and into an open grassland of cattle and stone. Like the white rocks she was used to but darker. Ariya wondered if it, too, held spirits. Over the coming days they moved. They moved into a forest that hugged a coastline of a sea (was it their sea?). Ariya noted that the forest was colder than any she had ever experienced before. She sat on a fallen log that that tumbled down from a fire (she could see the scorched marks) and looked all around her at the trees. Where now? “Beyond.” Ariya must have said it out loud for Ateas answered her. The man had come out of nowhere - quiet as death in the forests he knew so well. The man had latched onto the word over the past few days in the (false) belief that it was the sole word of her language he recognized. The rest he made up for in studying her body language. He was intuitive like that. Ariya sighed but took it as it was meant. “And go where?” And once more he couldn’t possibly understand her but Ateas seemed to grasp her question regardless. He pointed. He pointed out of the forest. He pointed to a land covered in white. A land that was constantly blowing in cold air that Ariya could feel from there. Oh. … A/N: I’m finally, finally, done. In the future, I’m probably do manageable chunks of 10 turns. So, a couple of notes on names before I get the discussion rolling. 1. Ishtu is short for “Ishtuvega”, which is another name for Astyages in Babylonian. He is Cyrus II grandfather on his mother’s side. He’s mentioned in the Civilopedia. 2. Bīābān is the farsi word for desert. Similarly, darja for sea. 3. Darayava is another name for Darius. 4. Aniya is short for Ariyāramna. The brother of Cyrus I. I flipped his gender. 5. Ateas is the name of a Scythian king. So, discussion time, I mainly want some advice on where to settle my second city and what pantheon to pick. I’m torn between Stone Circles and Desert Folklore. The first gives immediate bonuses due to the Gypsium, but the second provides more long-term benefits. The second issue is my second city. I can either go south to nab those Cocoas or forward settle by Mt. Kilimanjaro. I think that may net me 4 Era score points. 2 for forward settling and 2 for settling near a Natural Wonder. I could also put a city up north next to the Pearls. There’s a really good Industrial District spot up there. I would be able to build a Galley for Era score too. Though I wouldn’t get the Sailing Eureka as my Slinger got that from popping a village. …oh, did you forget about him? More on Darayava and Cyrus later. Anyways, to get what I’m talking about, here’s a screenshot: Lastly, if you’ve read this far and like my work (and are a fan of the Tower of God manhwa) check out In the Dark, my fanfic on Spacebattles. P.S. I normally use the Firefox image rehoster. So if the screenshots are broken for you please comment!